Thursday, 7 March 2013

Authentic Authenticity

AUTHENTICITY


Some people say that Authenticity is a big thing. I think it is bigger than we think.  In many cases it's the ONLY thing some people have.
An Authentic Leader is seen to be a beacon of hope, a strong example, an ethical person who does the right thing.  They are seen to be someone others aspire to be.  They are magnetic forces because others want to align with them for one or both of two reasons.
1. Trust
2. Hoping that some of the magic rubs off on them.
Having the strength to confront your inauthenticities is hard.  Some may say it's the hardest thing you can do because you are looking at yourself in a new way.  When you admit, to yourself and others, your inauthenticities then you are being AUTHENTIC about them.  Denying they exist is further compounding them.
"If you cannot find the courage to be authentic about your inauthenticities, you can forget about being a leader...The actionable access to authenticity is being authentic about your inauthenticities..."
At some point we are Inauthentic as well as being Authentic at other times.  Certainly, situations can determine who we are or what we say and do.  To be authentic we must discover and confront our inauthenticities.  We must also be honest, and tell the truth, to ourselves and others about when we are not being genuine (authentic).  But, how far do we go with that?

In 2010 Domino’s Pizza made a decision to come out and tell the truth about their Pizzas. They agreed that they tasted like cardboard.

In 1991 during a speech to the Institute of Directors, Gerald Ratner, the CEO of Ratner’s Jewellers said ‘People ask, "How can you sell these (earrings) for such a low price?” I say, "because it's total crap."’

In both instances the business world was shocked at the honesty. I would assume the shareholders had a ‘moment’ too. Wow! If some leaders could just fake authenticity they would be happy but, there IS no faking it. With Domino’s it’s a consumable but it was only a recipe issue, the quality is not in question, nobody was poisoned, nobody had their health compromised. With Ratners it WAS purely a quality issue, the goods were not worth the money . Domino’s continues…Ratners went down the tube.

Authenticity is not an easy subject to tackle and wrestle to the ground. One needs to step outside of conventional thought on authenticity. It takes a lot of courage to discuss authenticity/inauthenticity as it lifts the lid on things we may keep hidden, knowingly or unknowingly. Taking part in this chat will certainly broaden our awareness of ourselves, as a Leader and as a person.

A superficial description of authentic is being real, genuine, the “real deal”, honest. Would you be as honest as Ratners or Domino’s? If your business made a monumental mistake, it’s all very well admitting this to your people but would you admit it to the world, your clients or SKYNEWS? How far does authenticity go before we have to make a stand and be, to all intents and purposes, Inauthentic because the outcome may determine that we cannot be authentic in that instance? 
The definition I use of Authenticity is: Being and acting consistent with who you hold yourself out to be for others, and who you hold yourself out to be for yourself.

The central definition is ‘who you hold yourself out to be’. It is NOT your personality, not your thoughts, not your feelings and not social protocols…it is more a DECLARATION that you make, a stand you take on yourself, a commitment to a set of values.

Bill George, Harvard Business School Professor of Leadership and author said:
“After years of studying leaders and their traits, I believe that Leadership begins and ends with authenticity.”

The cold hard truth is that because of certain situations, with certain people, in some ways and at certain times we can all be Inauthentic. Because we avoid at all costs confronting our inauthenticity’s, we are consistently inauthentic about being inauthentic. What if you find yourself discussing ‘How does a person determine when they are being genuine?’
Above all else, Authenticity is CENTRAL to leadership and to being a leader.

Are you authentic all the time? Even when NO ONE is watching? 
If you are Authentic, or if you are aware that you are Inauthentic sometimes, then you have a very great chance of being an exceptional leader.





Post a Comment